Colorado health official and Routt County representative to visit tire pile
December 2, 2013
Steamboat Springs — The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and a representative from Routt County plan to survey the site of a waste tire complaint in South Routt County this week or next.
A Phippsburg resident filed a complaint with the state agency about a tire pile alongside Colorado Highway 131 between Steamboat Springs and Oak Creek in the Oak Creek Canyon.
The tires came from an old junkyard south of Yampa and are being cut for disposal by Saw Wisecup at the parcel in the canyon. Wisecup was contracted by the new owner of the junkyard to dispose of the tires.
Tire piles have inherent dangers, such as providing breeding grounds for mosquitos and presenting fire risks, and the storage and transportation of tires is regulated by the state.
Wisecup previously said there are no plans to store the tires at the site beyond the time it takes to cut and transport them to the landfill in Milner.
Kate Lemon, public information specialist for the Colorado Department of Public Health, wrote in an email that the joint trip with a state environmental protection specialist and a county representative was scheduled for this week but might be postponed because of weather.
The first step, Lemon wrote in a previous email, is to gather more information about the complaint and determine which agency will take the lead on investigating the complaint.
"CDPHE and local governing bodies have dual authority to enforce the solid waste regulations," she wrote. "With the large volume of complaints received by the CDPHE Solid Waste Program each year, we depend on the assistance of our local partners in conducting solid waste complaint response activities."
Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger earlier said the county is aware of the complaint and working toward a resolution but does not want to derail the proper disposal of the tires, which have been part of the larger junkyard cleanup issue for decades.
Enforcement mechanisms or penalties for any potential violations are based on many variables, Lemon wrote, and it is too early in the investigation to determine what those could be.
"Our main goal would be to get the waste tire pile cleaned up so it poses no risk to public health or the environment," she wrote.